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LONDON (Reuters) - London picked up the fashion baton from New York on Friday with five days of catwalk shows and presentations amid an industry shake-up as designers strive to sell their creations faster.
London Fashion Week, which returns to a car park as its main venue, will feature 83 designers presenting their autumn/winter 2016 collections, including Burberry, Alexander McQueen, Erdem and Topshop Unique.
Among the most anticipated shows will be that of luxury goods maker Mulberry, which returns to the catwalk after a break with new creative director Johnny Coca, formerly at Louis Vuitton and Celine.
"The industry as a whole is really excited," said Pandora Sykes, fashion features editor at The Sunday Times Style magazine. "He is the person that made everyone want Celine luggage. So if he can even lend a soupcon of that to Mulberry, then they are already on the up."
The London shows take place as an increasing number of luxury labels seek to satisfy demand from clients living in different climates, by bridging the usual six-month gap between catwalk presentation and retail availability.
Burberry has said it is cutting down its four catwalk shows to two in February and September, featuring both menswear and womenswear, and that the clothes will be available to purchase straight after.
In an interview, Mulberry Chief Executive Thierry Andretta said Burberry's decision will "impact people's thinking".
British Fashion Council Chief Executive Caroline Rush told Reuters that businesses were "really thinking about how do they put the customer at the heart of what they do, and this is really what it is about.
"And all of the noise and excitement that comes out of London fashion weeks and shows is ... how do we get that better connection with the customer that wants to buy the product?"
Among the first to kick off Friday's shows was Seoul-born J. JS Lee who said her line was inspired by Victorian architecture and furnishings. Models wore tailored trouser and skirt suits with frayed detailing, as well as dresses with draped detailing in red, yellow, black and white.
Presenting furry coats, lace and knitted dresses and folklore-like frocks in black, nude, pink and lilac, Turkish designer Bora Aksu said he took inspiration from a Russian duchess living a spartan life.
"Her life journey of just being a duchess at a young age and being a farmer girl inspired the collection so there is lots of contrasting elements in it," he said. "So there are things like rainbow coats but also the fur is representing her aristocracy."
Additional reporting by Jane Witherspoon; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Mark Trevelyan